It is common for people to have late, irregular, or absent periods immediately after stopping hormonal birth control. It may take up to 3 months for a person’s menstrual cycle and fertility to return to normal.
This comes from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).
However, an absent period is also potential sign of pregnancy. People who are sexually active and who have stopped using their usual method of birth control should take a pregnancy test if their periods do not resume after 4 weeks.
In this article, we will look at the cause of late periods after stopping birth control, other symptoms a person may experience, and how long those symptoms may last.
According to the NHS, it is normal to have late or irregular periods after stopping hormonal birth control. It can take several weeks, or sometimes months, for periods to resume as normal. Some doctors call this post pill amenorrhea.
After a person stops using hormonal birth control, two factors – other than pregnancy – can cause late periods. They are:
Delayed return to ovulation
Hormonal birth control methods, such as pills, implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and injections, work to prevent pregnancy in several ways. One of the ways they work is by making ovulation less likely. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries.
When a person is not using hormonal contraception, ovulation typically happens once per menstrual cycle. If a sperm does not fertilize the egg, shifts in hormone levels trigger a period.
Because people using hormonal birth control typically do not ovulate, it may take time for regular ovulation to return. Until this happens, a person may have no periods at all.
Lack of hormones
Some methods of hormonal birth control, such as the combined pill, can help regulate a person’s periods. This means that, even if a person does not ovulate, they can still experience bleeding at regular times of the month.
Doctors call this a withdrawal bleed, as it typically occurs when a person takes a monthly break from the pill, or takes placebo pills as part of their prescription.
Without the medication, the body’s own hormones must begin to regulate periods on their own. It can take a while for the body to adjust to doing this naturally.
Additionally, people who had irregular periods before they began using hormonal contraception may find irregular bleeding resumes after they stop.
Stopping birth control can affect people in different ways. People may experience:
Temporary side effects
Some people experience side effects after stopping birth control. These typically get better with time, and may include:
- spotting or bleeding between periods
- breast tenderness
- changes to the skin or hair
Some people may find that stopping birth control leads to beneficial effects, particularly if the method or brand of birth control they were using gave them unwanted side effects. For example, people may experience Trusted Source:
- increased libido
- fewer headaches
- improved mood
- less nausea
Return of old symptoms
If someone previously used contraceptives to manage the symptoms relating to their period, those symptoms may return Trusted Source after stopping birth control. Examples include: